It's not often a sportsperson in the top couple of rankings in the world plays in New Zealand, but the KLRC US$50,000 New Zealand Open badminton tournament starting with initial matches on Tuesday at the North Shore Event Centre can easily claim it has one of the best.
Hong Kong's Zhou Mi entered this week's Grand Prix event at No3 in the world but then moved up to the top spot in the world rankings before just a few days ago being overtaken by Denmark's Tine Rasmussen who has a lead of three points (69483) ahead of Mi on 69480.
If Zhou Mi, 29 is able to defending her title in Auckland she will retake the top world ranking, something she says might be a little difficult as she is trying to get over a dos of the flu.
"This competition is very important and it is important to be No1. It is a major event," she said through an interpreter "I'm not scared of not being able to get the ranking back. I'm confident I can win, but have to recover from the flu."
Zhou Mi recently winning the Macau Open Gold Grand Prix, the China Masters Super-Series, the Indian Gold Grand Prix and the Korea Super-Series. This was all after she was not selected by China which led to a dispute and her retirement in 2005 and her return to the sport and her change of nationality last year.
Zhou Mi will play her first round singles match at 5.20pm on Wednesday against Southland's Anna Rankin.